Statistics of police-reported hate crimes don’t reflect reality, say Quebec community groups

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Statistics of police-reported hate crimes don’t reflect reality, say Quebec community groups
WATCH: A recent report suggests that when compared to some other provinces, Quebec's increase in racially motivated police-reported hate crimes in 2020 is not as significant. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, community organizations caution that the numbers don't tell the whole story and that there is still much more work to be done – Jul 29, 2021

A recent report suggests that, when compared to some other provinces, Quebec’s increase in racially motivated hate crimes in 2020 might not be seen as very high.

According to the report by Statistics Canada released late July, the number of police-reported hate crimes jumped by nearly 37 per cent between 2019 and 2020.  Experts blame the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report did not include figures for hate incidents not considered criminal.

Of all the hate crimes, including those motivated by religion or sexual orientation, those targeting race and ethnicity almost doubled in 2020.  In Ontario, for example, that number jumped from 376 to 697.

Quebec, on the other hand, saw just 47 more of those offences — 157 to 204. But Montreal community groups point out that figure could be misleading.

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“Well, it may say a couple of things,” said Fo Niemi, executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.  “First of all is that there aren’t enough people reporting.”

There are a couple reasons why people don’t go to police, say advocates.  One is that some don’t know what a hate crime is.

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Another is that people just don’t trust authorities.

“Oh, of course there’s a lack of trust in the system,” said Dr. Myrna Lashley, McGill University psychologist.  “The system put us where we are.”

Lashley, who is Black and has conducted studies on race relations, points to systemic racism as one example, something the Legault government refuses to acknowledge.

Others say people are just afraid of police.

“If you’re Indigenous and you’ve been racially profiled by the police, are you really gonna make that call?” said Nakuset, director of the Native Women’s Centre of Montreal.

Xu says he knows many people in Montreal’s Chinese community who don’t go to police when things happen to them.

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When he was allegedly the target of racial slurs this spring, by a man who was eventually arrested for allegedly threatening a woman of Chinese descent on the Montreal metro, Xu made a police report and now points to another problem.

“I mean, it’s a huge pain in the neck,” he stressed.  “You’d think the system is designed to be, for example, victim-oriented.

According to him it isn’t and he pointed out that’s why some people don’t bother to report hate crimes.

Advocates say police need more resources and also need to do more.

“That’s why we always ask the police department to do a lot of community outreach,” Niemi told Global News, “to inform, educate and also to reassure.”

In a statement, the Montreal police department wrote, “Since its founding in 2016, the SPVM’s Hate Crimes and Hate Incidents (MICH) module has been working to create personalized links with the various communities present on the island of Montreal.

“Its staff meet regularly with citizens of these communities to educate them on aspects of hate crimes and incidents and to provide them with prevention advice to protect themselves against them.”

It also said it takes hate crimes and hate incidents very seriously, and that anyone who experiences or witnesses a hate crime or incident should call 911.

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Click to play video: 'Looking at the impact of COVID-19, racism on young Black adults in Quebec'
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